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George Dunning

(b. November 17, 1920 Toronto, Ontario - d. February 15, 1979 London, England)

One of the most original, talented and productive animators of his time, George Dunning established himself at the National Film Board as an artist with a strongly individual style before moving to Britain, where he made the film he will always be associated with: Yellow Submarine (1968), the innovative, vibrantly surreal landmark feature that became an instantly recognizable pop icon of the sixties.

Following studies at the Ontario College of Art and freelance work as an illustrator, Dunning joined the NFB in 1943, where he worked with Norman McLaren and contributed to several episodes of the Chants populaires series. But it was his work on Grim Pastures (1944), Three Blind Mice (1945) and especially Cadet Rouselle (1947) – with its use of articulated, painted, metal cut-outs – that marked him as an individual talent. He attempted an independent production of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen with Colin Low, but it was never finished.

In 1948, he spent a year working for UNESCO in Paris under the mentorship of Czech-born animator Berthold Bartosch. Then in 1949, he and fellow NFB grad Jim McKay created one of Toronto’s first animation studios, Graphic Associates, where he produced commercials and gave Michael Snow his first job in film. He won a Special Canadian Film Award in 1951 for Family Tree (1950), and in 1956 moved to England to manage UPA’s new London office. After the office went under seven months later, he hired many of the UPA staff to work for him and his newly established production company, TV Cartoons (which became TVC London in 1961). While TVC produced about one hundred commercials a year, Dunning managed to make the atmospheric, Kafkaesque The Wardrobe (1958), The Apple (1962) and The Flying Man (1962).

He also made the three-screen animated film Canada Is My Piano for Expo ’67, and oversaw the cartoon series “The Beatles” for BBC-TV. This led to his work on Yellow Submarine, which he produced and directed, supervising over two hundred artists on an eleven-month production schedule. The influential film, like all of his later work – including the award-winning Damon the Mower (1972) – stresses Dunning’s irrational, surrealistic themes.

Film and video work includes

Back to Normal, 1944 (producer)
Chants populaires nº2, 1944 (co-director and co-animator with Jean-Paul Ladouceur)
Chants populaires nº3, 1944 (co-director and co-animator with Jim MacKay)
Chants populaires nº4, 1944 (co-director and co-animator with Jim MacKay)
Grim Pastures, 1944 (director; animator)
Keep Your Mouth Shut, 1945 (co-director with Norman McLaren)
The Three Blind Mice, 1945 (director)
Cadet Rouselle, 1947 (director)
Christmas Carols, 1947 (animator)
Family Tree, 1950 (co-director with Evelyn Lambart; animator)
The Wardrobe, 1958 (director; producer; animator)
The Story of the Motor Car Engine, 1959 (producer)
Power Train, 1960 (producer)
Redemption of a Retailer, 1961 (director)
The Apple, 1962 (director, producer)
The Ever-Changing Motor Car, 1962 (co-director with Alan Ball; producer)
The Flying Man, 1962 (director; producer; animator)
Mr. Know-How in Hot Water, 1962 (producer)
Mr. Know-How in All Round Comfort, 1963 (producer)
Discovery - Penicillin, 1964 (producer)
The First Adventure of Thud and Blunder, 1964 (director; producer)
Haulage Hazards, 1964 (director; producer)
Knock Off Time, 1964 (director; producer)
The Beatles, 1965 (producer; TV)
Charley, 1965 (director; producer)
The Insects, 1965 (producer)
Kindred Spirit Scotch Whisky's Guide to International Relations, 1965 (producer)
The Loco, 1965 (director; producer)
The Helmet, 1966 (director; producer)
Materials Handling, 1966 (director; producer)
The Roof, 1966 (director; producer)
Safety Boots, 1966 (director; producer)
Canada is My Piano, 1967 (director; producer)
The Chair, 1967 (director)
The Ladder, 1967 (director)
Shaped for Living, 1967 (producer)
Tidy Why, 1967 (producer)
Discovering Radar, 1968 (producer)
Lazy River, 1968 (director)
Yellow Submarine, 1968 (director)
Cod Fishing, 1969 (producer)
Hands, Knees and Bumps-A-Daisy, 1969 (director; producer)
Moonrock, 1970 (director)
A Sense of Responsibility, 1970 (producer)
Damon the Mower, 1972 (director; animator)
Horses of Death, 1972 (director)
How Not to Keep a Head While Shotfiring, 1973 (director)
The Maggot, 1973 (director)
Plant a Tree, 1973 (producer)
Along These Lines, 1974 (animator)
Five Problems in Communication, 1974 (producer)
Safety Senses, 1975 (producer)
Teamwork, 1977 (co-director with Jim Duffy; producer)
The Devil May Care, 1978 (producer)
Sketches for the Tempest, 1979 (director)

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